NewsHealth / August 19, 2015

Brown County Health Department Exploring Possibility Of Needle Exchange

The Brown County Health Department is exploring whether to adopt a needle exchange program to help quell the spread of Hepatitis C. 

Brown County has seen a slight increase in its Hepatitis C rates over the past year.

Public Health Officer Norman Oestrike says while the numbers aren’t alarming, the county wants more information about the cases. 

"We know there are a number of Hepatitis C patients that are new. What we don’t know yet is all of the causes of them," Oestrike said. "In Scott County, they were clearly related to needle use. Ours may not be."

Depending on what they find, Oestrike says the county may move forward with requesting a needle exchange program.

In order to start an exchange, the county must hold a public hearing and ask the state health commissioner to declare a public health emergency.

At least half a dozen other counties have considered or implemented needle exchange programs.

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